30 October 2019

A chapter on creativity

By Barbara Glasson

You either get it or you don’t get it, but I can’t really explain it to you!

`I’m talking about Chapter 8 of our book, So What’s the Story…. it’s the chapter on creativity! It’s not so much that some people are creative and other’s aren’t, it’s just that some people think about being creative and others just create!  Creativity isn’t a plan or a strategy, it’s an impulse, a surge of energy, something that can’t be resisted. This creative urge just bubbles up, it pulls us into something, it’s a question or an idea or a spark. Creativity happens!

That’s not to say you don’t need some skill. Knowing how to mix paint or to shape a poem or lay out a garden are handy attributes that might make the end product more satisfying. But creativity itself is not about a product, it’s about a process, a question, a quest.

Let me give you an example. On my holiday I spent a week trying out my new paints. I am really enjoying painting landscapes in oils but one day I thought I’d revisit the acrylics. It was a particularly wet day, and it was bucketing it down with rain. And I wondered what would happen if I let the rain do the painting. So I took a few tubes of paint and I  put colour on a canvas, and then wearing my waterproof coat and looking like a complete idiot I stood outside and let the rain do its work. The colours flowed into each other, the picture and I got very wet and then, when the sun eventually came out I watched the picture ‘develop’.

Now, the rain didn’t understand form or shape or texture, but it picked up the paint and formed rivulets and puddles and it mixed colours together and poured them around  with no regard for the edges of the page. The sun did some alchemy and pulled shades in towards each other and all sorts of patterns and textures emerged and made me smile from ear to ear. I have varnished this picture and hung it on the garden fence and it pleases me a great deal!

It pleases me mostly because when I am being creative, I feel free to explore some different boundaries myself. I am brought close to the mysteries of shape and form. I can lose myself in abstractions and enjoy asking questions about the nature of things. Time stretches out. Mostly I feel close to the Creator and wonder at how I have been painted, drawn and knit into the ways of the Universe. And that not only gives me joy but it makes me feel close to the story of my creation and to the one who imagined the earth and even me.

Paint might not be what floats your boat,  it might be poetry or cookery or gardening or fixing a car, but there is something primal about activities where our bodies work together with our imaginations to see what emerges. And once we get over those negative messages that may have been instilled by our school art teacher or spelling tests, then we are free to play, to learn and to explore the edges of the world in new ways.

If this makes no sense to you, then don’t worry about it, skip chapter eight and move on - meanwhile I am looking forward to the first frost to see how that might work on the next canvas!

This article first appeared in the Methodist Recorder on Sept 20th


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